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3-4 Day Plan in Budapest. Ideas?

Flights and hotels all booked, and we head to Budapest this Fri. Ironing out what we want to there, and here is what I have so far. Looking for advice on what we may be missing, and what we have is not worth the effort/time.

Day 0 - Sat 8/1
- Arrive in Budapest late night around 9 pm from Vienna by train.
- Check in to Le Meridien.

Day 1 - Sun 8/2
- Holocaust museum
- Great Synagogue
- New York Palace
- Royal Opera House
- House of Terror
- Heroes Square
- Will we have time for couple hrs in Szechenyi baths?

Day 2 - Mon 8/3
- Parliament building
- Shoe memorial
- St. Stephen's Basilica
- Great Market Hall
- Gresham Palace
- Chain Bridge
- Royal Palace
- Mathias Church
- Fisherman's Bastion
- Time for short river cruise?

Day 3 - Tue 8/4
- Szentendre (go by bus/train, return by boat)
- About how long will this take? Will we have time for any leftovers from Day 1/2?
- If we are unable to go to Szechenyi on Day 1, is it possible today?

Day 4 - Wed 8/5
- Did I miss anything major?
- If not, perhaps catch a train to Bratislava, store luggage at station (is it available?), and spend few hour in city
- Onward to Vienna

Other general questions:
1) As we will be with kids (5 and 10), perhaps taxi between far-flung locations will be convenient and not too expensive?
2) If public transport is better, would the 72-hr travel card be a good way to go?
3) Vegetarian restaurant recommendations? Any good Indian / Italian or similar cuisines?

Posted by
379 posts

There are others here more knowledgeable about Budapest than I, but I would make a few recommendations:

  1. Go see a show at the Opera rather than touring it. Tickets are really cheap - buy good seats.
  2. I would recommend doing the Szechenyi baths the same day you go to Heroes' Square, since they are so close. Yes I think day one probably works. I would say you want at least two hours there. NY Palace probably won't take you very long.
  3. I would recommend booking your Parliament tickets in advance.
  4. Day 2 is pretty ambitious. Maybe shift some of those things (Basilica, Great Market Hall) to your Day 4. Spend some time in Buda, even if just walking around.
  5. I have not personally been there, but I wouldn't go to Bratislava for just a few hours. I'd rather spend my time in Budapest and Vienna.
  6. Taxis are inexpensive, but consider the excellent metro system too.
Posted by
10369 posts

Day 0 - Sat 8/1
Arrive in Budapest late night around 9 pm from Vienna by train.
Take an earlier train.

Check in to Le Meridien.
Excellent hotel. Excellent location.

Day 1 - Sun 8/2
Holocaust museum

The Jewish Memorial Holocaust Museum is a fairly good distance and you want to cover a lot of ground so go to the M3 metro station and buy your travel cards. The M3 will get you within a few blocks
All together door to museum to completion figure 1 to 1.5 hours
Great Synagogue
Because of all you want to see I would call a taxi to get you here
Take the tour. Worth it.
Figure 1 to 1.5 hours including taxi ride here.

New York Palace
It’s noon by now so time NY Palace is a good idea.
Walk to the Astoria metro and take it one stop to Blaha Lujza tér and then a short walk to the NY Palace Café. Tends to be a little crowded around lunch time. But worth it.
Hungarian State Opera House
Hop the 4/6 Tram to the Oktogon stop. This is the most heavily used metro line in Europe. Deal with it. Fortunately you have travel cards so you don’t have to worry about validating tickets. Stop Announcements are in Magyar, German and English.
A short walk up Andrassy ut from the Oktogon stop.
House of Terror
Figure 2 hours to 3 hours including getting there from the NY Palace; depending on your interest.
Heroes Square
Take the M1 Metro line up Andrassy ut
Will we have time for couple hrs in Szechenyi baths?
Dinner in Budapest starts at 7 and 8 isn’t uncommon, so yes.

After the bath house walk to Paprika Vendéglő for dinner (reservations in advance is a good idea)
After dinner walk back down Andrassy ut to see the great architecture. Long walk so you may want to hop on and off the M1 along the way to shorten it.

Posted by
10369 posts

Day 2 - Mon 8/3
I would do this order:

St. Stephen’s
Parliament Building
2 Tram to the Great Market Hall
Skip Gresham Palace (the Four Season’s Hotel)
Cross the Danube on the 47/49 Tram
Take the 19/41 Tram to the Funicular
Up the Funicular to see Castle Hill, the Palace, Fishermans Bastion, Mathias, etc; and eat lunch
Walk down the hill and walk across the Chain Bridge.
Then walk to the shoes on the Danube which are best gotten to from the Pest side of the Chain Bridge.
Then ….. Hey, you have time!!
Rest up and take an evening river cruise so you can see the lights. And those glass boats tend to get warm with the sun beating down on them.

Posted by
10369 posts

Day 3 - Tue 8/4
Szentendre (go by bus/train, return by boat)
About how long will this take? Will we have time for any leftovers from Day 1/2?
If we are unable to go to Szechenyi on Day 1, is it possible today?

About noon take the M2 to Batthyány tér (15 minutes tops)
Transfer to the H5 inner city train (by a ticket for that portion of the trip that isnt covered by your travel cards – lady at the ticket window will help you). Board the H5 and in about 30 minutes you are in Szentendre. Walk North along the river till you see the old town. Maybe 10 minutes.
Come back by boat. This will be your short river cruise. Takes about 45 minutes. I think the boat leaves about 5 pm but check the schedule on line. Google Szentendre River Taxi or some such thing and you will find it.

Day 4 - Wed 8/5
Did I miss anything major?

Yes, you missed a tremendous amount.
Onward to Vienna
If you must.

Other general questions:
1) As we will be with kids (5 and 10), perhaps taxi between far-flung locations will be convenient and not too expensive?

Taxis are cheap, public transportation will work fine for your circumstance most of the time.
2) If public transport is better, would the 72-hr travel card be a good way to go?
Yes, and I think there is a group card that might be less expensive than individual cards. Check their website.
3) Vegetarian restaurant recommendations? Any good Indian / Italian or similar cuisines?
Go to Italy for great Italian Food, the UK for great Indian food and Hungary for great Hungarian food.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks Steve! I did want to see a show at the Opera, but there is none while we are there due to summer closures.

James - thanks so much for extremely detailed tips...will be carrying these with me for sure! Transportation info will be invaluable!
Do you have suggestions for Day 4 in terms of highlights that I can do if I decide to skip Bratislava?
We would love to try Hungarian food, just not sure if they will have good vegetarian options?

One more q - several of the attractions seem to open around 10. Is there anything else we can do in the morning cooler hour(s)?

Posted by
10369 posts

Before I forget. Warning! Most stores are closed on Sunday. Some how the shops on Vaci utca find a way around the law but don’t count on much being open. Doesn’t affect tourist attractions or restaurants.

Here is the travel card you need: http://www.bkk.hu/en/budapest-24-hour-group-travel-card/ You will have to purchase a new one each day but it will be cheaper than four 72 hour cards. You realize that works out to less than $3 per day per person for unlimited use of the trams, metro, busses. You can’t beat that with a stick.

Hungarians aren’t big vegetarians. Sorry. I guess Goose Foie gras paté with orange – caramel is out of the question? Try this place. Its near your hotel, the food is good and they have a number of bean, cheese and bread options: https://www.facebook.com/hachapurirestaurant A little further up Andrassy ut on the left there is an Indian place called the Bombay Curry Bar. Been there cause it’s near the place we stay; food is good. Then there is another between your hotel and the Four Season’s hotel.

Most of the Jewish restaurants will have something vegetarian on the menu. Here is one: http://www.carmel.hu/en/etlap and here http://www.spinozahaz.hu/etterem.php?pid=12&do=etlap&lang=en And I am sure there are some pure vegetarian restaurants. I am just not familiar with them. Google time.

Posted by
10369 posts

By the end of Day 2 you will have decided if you want to skip Bratislava or not. What to do depends on your interests. You seem interested in Jewish Budapest and you can spend an entire day in the old ghetto. Then there are antique shops, wonderful old cemeteries, 15th century bath houses, neighborhoods, boats in the park, the zoo (great zoo for the kids by the way - few lawyers in Hungary make it more accessible), underground hospitals left over from WWII, trains through the country side run by kids, monument, water parks (catch a wave), aquarium, food (but you guys don't understand good food - MEAT), We have been spending a month or more every year for over a decade and I am not bored yet. Ride the trams an see the city. In a lot of ways its like Paris. Paris has that tower thing and not much else; and yet people adore it because of the atmosphere. Think the same of Budapest but better.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/06/06/bourdain-cooper-budapest-sot-ac.cnn

Posted by
14 posts

Awesome - suggestions noted! Now to see what we end up with.

One q - How long do you think we will need at St Stephen's Basilica, if we are there right when it opens at 9? Parliament tour for 10 am on that day is sold out, but 9:45 am is available. Google says it's about 15 mins walking, or 3-4 mins by taxi. Will either option give enough time to see the Basilica and then get to Parliament building for the tour? Or will we have to stay with original plan of Parliament first?

Posted by
10369 posts

Awesome - suggestions noted! Now to see what we end up with.

One q - How long do you think we will need at St Stephen's Basilica,
if we are there right when it opens at 9? Parliament tour for 10 am on
that day is sold out, but 9:45 am is available. Google says it's about
15 mins walking, or 3-4 mins by taxi. Will either option give enough
time to see the Basilica and then get to Parliament building for the
tour? Or will we have to stay with original plan of Parliament first?

Didn't know you were taking the tour at the Parliament. So skip the Basilica and head straight for the Parliament. Make sure you stop along the way and greet Ronald Reagan. G-d Bless a country that loves Reagan.

You can back track to St. Stephen's at the end of the day or early the next day before Szentendre. Really isn't far from your hotel. How long? Up to you. Walk through it, pay the 300 forint to see the hand and leave or climb the stairs to the tower and see the city. (bad taste to take the elevator). Have you ever wondered how they build those giant domes? When you climb the stairs you will get to see one from the inside out. With all that plus the "hand" figure an hour, maybe a little less. But take lots of cash as the best souvenir shops are to the right of the entrance of the cathedral and a little further down the central pedestrian road on the right,

There are certain long hauls where a taxi can be handy, but for the most part stick to public transport. For taxis do not hail one on the street. Call for one. Its cheaper and more reliable. My favorite company is City Taxi. Google it, write down the number and take it with you. Best i can figure you only need a cab from the Holocaust memorial to the Synagogue and then maybe to and from the train station; and only then because you have kids. Be sure when you arrive by train you call a taxi. Don't use the ones parked out front. They may be fine now that they are regulated but i know you will get a fair deal and a clean car if you call City Taxi or another major brand when the train pulls into the station. On the phone they will greet you in Hungarian to which you say "Good Evening" and everything will change to English. Good folks and they have been taking care of me for years.

Posted by
14 posts

Good to know about Basilica, will plan accordingly. Taxi numbers already noted, but thanks for the reminder.

Question about Vienna - Budapest train. Our flight gets in to VIE at 4:15 pm. I am thinking we will be able to catch the 6:12 pm Railjet train from Hbf to Keleti. Buying the standard ticket online, just in case we get delayed and have to take the 7:12 pm train instead (also Railjet).

1) Do we need to reserve seats on either train? Train details say "Please reserve" - not sure if that means it is mandatory?
2) If we do need to reserve and choose 6:12 during online reservation, and if we miss the 6:12, would the reservation carry over to 7:12? Would we need to do anything else if we catch the 7:12 instead of 6:12?
3) In light of possible delays, should I even pre-book the tickets (as I would still need to print them in Vienna). Or better to book to avoid long lines?

Posted by
10369 posts

I would buy the tickets at the station for flexibility. Don't get hung up on the name "Rail Jet" on the Vienna to Budapest line. Look at the schedules for the fastest time if there is any choice involved. I am going to bet that 2 hours is enough time, but you never know.